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Merril Bainbridge

Country of origin:


Type of music generally:



Most recent release, Between The Days (1998)

See also:

Merril Bainbridge's site

Wikipedia's entry on Merril Bainbridge


Sam Philips, Natalie Imbruglia, The Cardigans, St. Etienne

Covers/own material:

Own and co-written

General comments:

A Melbourne singer and songwriter, Merril's debut single "Mouth" is the pop song of the year, no question. A simple, happy pop song that Sam Philips could have done, it's made into something great by the use of entirely vocal percussion (no drums at all, just samples of people going pfft into a microphone), a minimalist arrangement, and a Split Enz-calibre treated piano middle 16. Great song, too. She covers the Pet Shop Boys song "Being Boring" on the CD single with just a guitar. She quotes as her influences Karen Carpenter and Vivaldi. (

Her music is very poppy-happy. I always put her on when I'm cleaning and it's a bright, sunny day. I also love her accent. (She's Australian—I love a line in her new CD—the song is titled "hello" when she rhymes "A to Zed" with "head." Heehee I think that's so cute :)) Okay so some people might say she's a "crap prefab artist" (LOL, I love that!), but in my not so humble opinion, she's not—I think she's a lot of fun and has a great voice. (

"Crap" is in the eye of the beholder—but she's not prefab. She's just genuinely into writing terribly chirpy, bubble-gum happy songs. Sort of like The Cardigans, or St. Etienne... If you like these, you might enjoy Merril Bainbridge. Approach with caution—massive toothache can follow :)
     As much as I try to plug Australian music whenever I can, I have to say that Merill Bainbridge would be far from an essential buy for me. It's candy-floss pop in the similar vein to The Cardigans; nowhere as interesting as Frente can be... in fact, I'd recommend Frente instead. Merill's CD is sweet, cute as pie, and reasonably well made, but I could think of about 200 CDs I'd get first. (

I can't really speak to Merril Bainbridge since I've only heard "Mouth" and thought it was indeed too sickly sweet. (

Too poppy for many tastes, but I'm deeply fond of her. She and her producer sculpt dreamy folk-pop soundscapes not unlike Mary Hopkin in the late 60s/early 70s, albeit informed by the technological advances of the intervening years. One of the better-engineered recordings in my collection, and a treasure trove of back-channel information for those equipped with Dolby Surround and a second set of speakers. In a word, gorgeous. (

I spent a few glorious days in Melbourne, Australia in March of '96, and while at my hostess's apartment I heard a female singer that I really liked, but failed to capture her name. Upon returning home to the US I went on a CD buying binge, hoping to find that sound that I so missed. In doing so I ended up discovering Merril Bainbridge, of, all places, Melbourne. My wife equates Marril's music to "music in a Hong Kong elevator", but, hey, what do you expect from someone who thinks that Michael Bolton's singing is "sweet". To me, Merril can sing, her arrangements are happy and interesting (in the correct sense of the word), and listening to her music is quite an uncomplicated joy in a world saturated with needless complication. I eagerly await Merril's second album. (

Recommended first album:

I guess my recommendation is buy The Garden first, before Between The Days makes a "misleading" first impression on you. Just in my humble opinion. (


The Garden

Release info:




Ecto priority:

Recommended for pop fans

Group members:

Merril Bainbridge—vocals, backing vocals, vocal arrangement

Guest artists:

Owen Bolwell—electric guitar, keyboards, programming
Angus Burchall—drums, percussion
Gary Costello—double bass
Mark Domoney—acoustic guitar
Chong Lim—piano
Roger McLachlan—bass
Sam Melamed—electric guitar, keyboards, programming
Steve O'Hara—strings
Siew—keyboards, programming
Mark Wallace—accordion
Chris Wilson—harmonica, vocals

Produced by:

Owen Bolwell, Sam Melamed, Siew


Catchy pop music, with a nice, bouncy sound. A bit more pop than your standard ecto fare. It's got a ridiculously catchy hook to it... (

'Mouth' is a fabulous slice'o'pop single. ( I very much like Merril's The Garden disc; although her music may be thought of as in the "poppish" side, upon closer examination (through listening), I found that the arrangements and orchestration on this album are very well done: they are musically intriguing, done with an ample variety of instruments, and they compliment Merril's voice rather well. Yes, the disc is perhaps better suited for a "happy day", due to its "uppity" nature; but, even on a "normal" day, I enjoy Merril's voice and the music on the The Garden disc; it is just a job well done. (

Between The Days

Release info:




Ecto priority:

Recommended for pop fans

Group members:

Merril Bainbridge—vocals, backing vocals

Guest artists:

Elvis Aljus—percussion
Alastair Barden—drums
Mark Domoney—guitar, acoustic guitar
Karen Eden—backing vocals
Warren Jenkin—bass
Anne McCue—guitar, acoustic guitar
Roger McLaughlin—bass
Alex Pertout—percussion
Gota Yashiki—loops, percussion

Produced by:



I have been so far quite disappointed with her second disc, Between The Days; I was looking for that same "uppity" and clever music, and there is none to be found. This second album, in my opinion, is quite "bland", and, although it is still that same lovely Merril voice, the arrangements are devoid of any cleverness or excitement, and to me *that* is more "crap prefab" (as you put it) than her first album. (

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DISCLAIMER: Comments and reviews in the Ectophiles' Guide are excerpted from the ecto mailing list or volunteered by members of the list. They are the opinions of music enthusiasts, not professional music critics.

Entry last updated 2016-05-21 19:42:05.
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